Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Album Review # 23 Low - I Could Live in Hope

Somewhere there's a table where a discussion is taking place over which is the best Low album. I'm not going to get involved. I don't know many of their records and it's probably pointless talk. They started out with a sound about twenty years ago and have stuck resolutely with it ever since, defining and refining it but essentially sticking to their guns. If in doubt start with the first or most recent. I Could Live in Hope is their debut. Low are a threepiece. Guitar, bass and drums. The two main players are a couple and they're both Mormons. They vocalise together. They've been described as reminiscent of Gram and Emmy Lou. This fits pretty well. They've also been described as Slowcore, a tag they dislike. Such are the things you can learn from Wikipedia
They're from Duluth, Minnesota. This fits them perfectly. I know nothing about Duluth, Minnesota but it's name conjures us lonely desolation to my mind. I find I'm entirely wrong having tracked down a photo. It's picturesque, suburban, green and leafy. A seaport. But it looks slow. And that's appropriate. Low do slow pretty much better than anyone else.
The band seems to be built on bass. Fairly much the bass sound of Joy Division or The Doors but as with everything here slowed down for the most part. Drained of its punk aggression. The guitars spiral and create space. The drummer often sounds as if he's using jazz brushes. Vocals are another instrument.
Adjectives come to mind. It's plaintive. Almost grieving. It's quite narcotic! No song stands out particularly. It's of a piece. Each song has a one word title: Words, Fear, Cut, Slide , Lazy, Lullaby, Sea, Down, Drag, Rope, Sunshine. The tracks themselves are suitably sparse and indistinct.
It's best listened to at night. I recommend it as you go to sleep. I'm breaking another rule of the blog by listening to it now on youtube on headphones. But all of the rules I made when I started this are broken now. The bass lopes throughout like it's auditioning for Riders on the Storm. The guitars continue to unravel throughout the records fifty eight minute span
Nothing is a full narrative. There seems to be quite a bit of regret and loss taking place. Every now and then everything hoists up to a more urgent pace. In the album's longest song Lullaby particularly. The album itself is deleted and costs upwards from thirty pounds on Amazon. This leaves the listener with a bit of a dilemma. I can't advise you do anything more than listen to it. It's a great album. The night time's the right time!

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